Hickey says end the property tax break

Bernard Hickey in the HoS calls for an end to being able to deduce investment property lossess off your personal income tax:

It is the elephant in the room of New Zealand politics. Everyone knows it, yet our leaders refuse to address it, partly because they and their generation benefited personally through the massive house price inflation it created.

I’m talking about the abuse of the tax system by property investors that has allowed them to establish various types of trusts and loss attributing qualifying companies (LAQCs) that make losses on investment rental properties to reduce their personal income tax bills.

This was among the major reasons for the property investment frenzy of the past six years that drove house prices to unaffordable levels and has now created the conditions for a bursting of that bubble.

It would be good to see some hard data on how much of the price increases can be credited to the tax treatment, and how much to land supply etc.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet wrote a report on house prices and affordability in March. It showed landlord numbers rose more than 100,000 to 300,000 in the decade to 2006. The report estimates the $149 billion of rental property generates a tax benefit of at least $700 million for property investors, with the potential for up to $1.8b of tax benefits.

The Reserve Bank has asked the politicians to consider ring- fencing these investment property losses to remove some of the hot air pumping up the housing bubble.

But there isn’t a politician addressing the issue seriously.

Well I doubt anyone wants to lose the 300,000 votes such a move would result in.

Could such a change be grandfathered in? That would be inequitable but possibly the only way politically to do it.

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